APRIL 2013: Littleton, CO - This year Oldcastle Precast – Lebanon, TN won the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) 1st Place-Underground Cup Award for the Bellamy Bat Cave project. The Creative Use of Precast (CUP) Awards recognize those projects promoting the innovative and cost-saving advantages of precast concrete. NPCA’s Salute to Excellence Awards distinguishes the accomplishments of NPCA members in innovation and safety providing an opportunity to thank production personnel for a job well done.
NPCA 1st PLACE UNDERGROUND went to Oldcastle Precast- Lebanon, TN who built an artificial bat cave for Conservationists deep in the Tennessee woods to see if it can be a blueprint for saving bats that are dying by the millions from a fungus spreading across North America.
The $300,000 project by The Nature Conservancy is believed to be the first manmade hibernating structure for bats in the wild. Unlike natural caves, it will be cleaned annually to keep the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome from reaching lethal levels. "We talked with other people, waiting for one of them to call us crazy and no one did," said Gina Hancock, director of the Tennessee chapter of the conservancy.
The cave is assembled from prefabricated concrete sections. At 78 feet (23.7 meters) long and 16 feet (4.8 meters) wide, it is about the size of a single-wide mobile home. It has an 11-foot-(3.3-meter) tall ceiling that is textured so bats can cling to it.
Most of the cave was then covered with at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) of soil. All that can be seen from the surface is an air intake that serves as the bat entrance.
The artificial cave is placed near a natural cave with an established hibernation population of gray bats. The plan is to coax some of them to the new digs by emitting ultra-sonic bat calls on loudspeakers.
The general contractor for this project was Summit Constructors of Nashville, TN.